FEDERAL LAW ON FIRE EXTINGUISHERS FOR REC. BOATS AMENDEDPosted on Oct 22, 2021 in Announcements, Boat Harbors, Commercial Activities, Fishing Activities, Information Meeting, Main, Ocean Recreation Activities
EXCERPT FROM Federal Register / Vol. 86, No. 202 / Friday, October 22, 2021 / Rules and Regulations
SUMMARY: The Coast Guard is amending fire extinguishing equipment regulations for recreational vessels that are propelled or controlled by propulsion machinery. This rule relieves owners of these recreational vessels from certain inspection, maintenance, and recordkeeping requirements that are more suited for commercial vessels. To make it easier to find these regulations, this rule also relocates the regulations to another part of the Code of Federal Regulations. DATES: This final rule is effective April 20, 2022.
On July 22, 2016, the Coast Guard published the final rule, ‘‘Harmonization Standards for Fire Protection, Detection, and Extinguishing Equipment’’ (the ‘‘Fire Protection rule’’) in the Federal Register.
The Fire Protection rule revised Coast Guard fire safety requirements for uninspected vessels (46 CFR chapter I, subchapter C) to meet international and common industry standards.
Among the revisions, the Coast Guard required vessel owners to comply with NFPA 10. This standard requires vessel owners and operators to complete monthly visual inspections of portable fire extinguishers, perform annual maintenance of portable fire extinguishers, and maintain records of the inspections and maintenance. The Coast Guard allowed the required monthly inspections to be carried out by the vessel owner, operator, person-in-charge, or a designated member of the crew, rather than by a certified person as required in NFPA 10.
The Fire Protection rule also allowed these individuals to perform annual maintenance on non-rechargeable (also known as ‘‘disposable’’) extinguishers but retained the NFPA 10 requirement that rechargeable extinguishers be maintained by a certified person such as a licensed servicing agency.
The only exception to these inspection, recordkeeping, and maintenance requirements was for extinguishers built before 1965, in which the Coast Guard maintained their previous and separate inspection and maintenance requirements specific to those types of extinguishers.
The Coast Guard’s changes to the inspection and maintenance requirements in the Fire Protection rule were intended to apply to all vessels, including recreational vessels, in order to align inspection and maintenance requirements with common industry practice for fire extinguisher maintenance. (The NPRM for this action stated that the NFPA 10 requirements were ‘‘unintentionally’’ applied to recreational boaters in 2016 by the Fire Protection rule. It would have been more correct to say that 2016 rule did not recognize the full burden on recreational vessels.) They were also intended to provide a more complete set of maintenance and inspection requirements than what currently existed in Coast Guard regulations for extinguishers manufactured since 1965.
In the regulatory analysis accompanying the Fire Protection rule, we stated that we did not anticipate recreational vessel owners would incur any additional costs due to these provisions. After the rule published, however, we realized the requirements to visually inspect and maintain nonrechargeable fire extinguishers as described in NFPA 10, and to keep records of those activities in compliance with NFPA 10, actually do impose a burden on recreational vessel owners and operators.
On October 22, 2016, the National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) recommended that the Coast Guard remove the NFPA 10 recordkeeping requirements from recreational vessels and consolidate recreational vessel fire protection and boating safety requirements into 33 CFR chapter I, subchapter S (33 CFR parts 173–199).